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Weekly John Locke Foundation research division newsletter focusing on environmental issues.

The newsletter highlights relevant analysis done by the JLF and other think tanks as well as items in the news.

1. Sea level rise along NC coast

The headline on the front page of yesterday’s "Triangle and County" section of the Raleigh News and Observer read, "Counties fight sea-level forecast." As the N&O reports, "a state-appointed science panel has reported that a 1-meter rise in sea level is likely by 2100." This is significant because, as the paper goes on to note "The calculation, prepared for the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission, was intended to help the state plan for rising water that could threaten 2,000 square miles. Critics say it could thwart economic development on just as large a scale."  In other words, this prediction could dramatically impact property rights and property values if coastal area planning commissions take it seriously and act on it by restricting development on, as noted, 2000 square miles of NC coastal land. If not legally, certainly morally this would constitute a regulatory taking by the state.

A detailed study of the report done by David Burton, member of the NC Sea Level Rise Risk Management Study Advisory Commission, offers a detailed point-by-point critique of the report that was prepared for the Coastal Commission. Burton’s analysis is devastating and suggests that the estimate of a 1 meter (39 inch) rise in sea level by 2100 is wildly exaggerated. In fact, Burton concludes that the best science suggests a 3-14 inch rise along NC’s coast by 2100 The report was prepared in March of 2011 and its findings have not been challenged. Here is a summary of Burton’s conclusions:

  • It began by cherry-picking a single, outlier NC tide station as representative of the State, obviously chosen for its atypically large rate of recorded sea level rise.

  • It used just 24 years of sea level data from that tide station, despite the fact that 32 years of data were available, and other NC tide stations had over 75 years of data available.

  • It conflated sea level measurements from coastal tide gauges with mid-ocean sea level measurements from satellites, creating the illusion of an increase in rate of sea level rise.

  • Then it applied a discredited methodology from a fringe alarmist researcher, to justify predicting a wildly accelerated rate of sea level rise, far beyond even the IPCC’s alarmist predictions.

  • Then it exaggerated even his implausible projections.

  • Worst of all, it never even mentioned the fact that the actual historical record of sea level has shown no sustained acceleration in rate of rise for over 80 years, neitherglobally, nor here in North Carolina. That is the single most important thing to know about sea level rise, but you can’t learn it from this Report.

You can access Burton’s entire report here.  You can watch a lecture that Burton delivered to the John Locke Foundation’s Shaftsbury Society based on his research here.

2. Ozone Report

Another boring week of no high ozone days. The 2012 ozone season began on April 1 and each week during the ozone season this newsletter will report how many, if any, high ozone days had been experienced throughout the state during the previous week, where they were experienced, and how many have been recorded during the entire season to date. The ozone season will end on October 31st. All reported data is from the North Carolina Division of Air Quality, which is part of the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources. During the period May 21st to May 27th there were no reported high ozone readings on any of the state’s monitors. There have been no high ozone days thus far this season.

Click here for the Environmental Update archive.